Pearson, the world’s leading learning company, is pleased to announce today that the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund (PALF) has invested into Delhi-based start-up Avanti Learning Centres. This is the second investment in India that Pearson has made through PALF, and the third overall since the fund was launched in July 2012.
Avanti Learning Centres helps to prepare students from low-income backgrounds (those with a family income of $5,000 per annum or below) for college entrance exams, focusing on the highly competitive career paths of engineering and medicine. Students spend up to 18 hours a week at a centre and are charged only $20 per month. Costs are kept low by a large network of volunteers and partners, including universities, public schools, policy makers and private sector businesses, who assist with teaching and administration.
The centres produce significant learning outcomes, with 80 per cent of students showing a 20 per cent or more improvement in performance on standardised tests, and three-quarters of enrolled students measured as being on track for admission to a top college.
Avanti was initially founded as a non-profit in March 2010 by Akshay Saxena and Krishna Ramkumar. The company boasts an impressive track record to date, with students at their centres consistently outperforming those in traditional, high-end classroom coaching programs. The centres lean heavily on technology and media, such as recorded videos and online testing, to facilitate powerful personalised education plans, and also foster a peer-to-peer learning environment.
“It was this commitment from Akshay and Krishna to focus on improving the education of low-income communities, combined with an innovative learning model, that was the most attractive aspect of the investment opportunity” explains PALF executive director, Katelyn Donnelly.
“Avanti is particularly exciting because it is a non-traditional pedagogy with very strong initial results. Our investment allows us to partner with a mission-led company to bridge a crucial gap between secondary and higher education for low-income learners. PALF is enthused to support the Avanti team to successfully grow across India, and we look forward to working with them to deliver on their long-term vision.”
Mr Saxena commented:
”Once we decided that a for-profit model was the best way to reach scale, we knew we would need expert strategic insight and advice. We are incredibly excited to be working with the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund as they bring unrivaled education expertise to the table that can help us achieve our long-term objectives. We look forward to building upon the relationship with Pearson as we improve outcomes for low-income learners in the years to come.”
Avanti will use this seed investment round, which was also participated in by two additional angel investors, to develop a comprehensive online-offline learning and monitoring system, to expand on content creation and to build new centres.
The Pearson Affordable Learning Fund was launched in July 2012 with $15 million dollars of Pearson capital. It’s mandate is to invest in companies that can build quality, scalable education solutions to meet a burgeoning demand for affordable educational services across Africa, Asia and Latin America.